I know that everyone is excited about next season, and I wanted to talk about the hopes that I place in our players. I'm going to break down all 13 scholarship players (sorry scrubs).
Chris Warren - We all know everything about Warren. If he can return from his knee injury at 100% (a big if), there is no doubt in my mind that he will steal primary PG duties back from Terrico. Terrico's really good, but Chris is a more complete player (as far as skill set) to man the point. Some of you may have forgotten that Chris was tearing it up at the beginning of the season and well on his way to being named first team All-SEC at point guard. He's a phenomenal player who can be counted on in the clutch.
Will Bogan - We saw him have a good game against Arkansas, but I'm still not convinced that wasn't just an anomaly. Kennedy says that he saw things in that game that told him Will was adjusting to SEC play and starting to actually come into his own. That is to say, Kennedy didn't think it was too big of a fluke. Next year, Bogan's minutes will be very limited, but it will be good to have someone capable of coming off the bench and holding onto a lead.
David Huertas - Some of you may have simply glanced over my recent post about Dahveed and think I don't want him on the team. That couldn't be further from the truth. As I stated in the article, if we don't have to rely so heavily on him to create, David is a great player. It's no coincidence that he played so exceptionally when Chris Warren was still healthy. With Warren there, David had someone else to draw pressure who was capable of passing off shots to Huertas who hit a lot of open threes before Warren went down. The Chris Warren/David Huertas chemistry was evident from the beginning of the season, and hopefully it will continue to next season. Huertas is our second or third best perimeter defender, and it's great to have a player who is so good offensively and defensively.
Terrico White - Terrico White can walk on water. Some people have said that White has only scratched the surface of his ability. I'm not sure that's the case, since his game is pretty great all around. Still, I would love to see him improve his free throw percentage. For a player who can drain threes with a hand in his face, he sure can't make uncontested, stand-still shots.
Eniel Polynice - I think that a lot of our fans have forgotten just how good Polynice was on defense and in shot creation. Granted, much like Terrico, Polynice suffered from the charity stripe, but his on ball defense is unmatched on our team. Polynice shut down a lot of great players as a sophomore, and it's exciting to know that we'll have him for two more years.
Zach Graham - Graham is a player about whom I was very excited last season. He didn't get the minutes that he deserved, and it resulted in a lack of significant progression over the course of the season. This year, he is playing with a partially torn ligament in his knee and shutting down opposing teams' best players. Graham has become what Polynice was last year. Oh, and he can shoot free throws.
Murphy Holloway - Alright. I know that Murphy is only 6'5" or so, but he plays like he's a lot bigger than that. Holloway leads the SEC in offensive rebounds. I could have put him at the 3, but I think that taking him away from the basket limits his ability to best contribute to the team. Murphy Holloway plays like you wish everyone would play. Reckless abandon, unyielding effort, and spectacular ability with the ball in his hands.
Terrance Henry - Henry has shown the ability to contribute to the team, but he's going to have to bulk up to be a presence down low. It's great to have a player who's 6'9" and can be the main cog in the press, but Henry is obviously disadvantaged by his size. He is unable to fight for rebounds. It's exciting to have a player with his ball skill down low, and I think that his potential thusfar has been relatively untapped due to sheer lack of bulk. If he can gain ten or fifteen pounds in the offseason, he can really contribute a lot to the team next year.
Reggie Buckner - Buckner plays the 3 for his high school and in AAU, but I think it's safe to say that his future is at the 4 spot. At 6'9", he would have to prove himself as a phenomenal ball-handler in order to be utilized at the 3. Buckner is probably the most highly touted basketball recruit in our program's history. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but he's four players away from a five star rating on rivals. Buckner is a force down low and holds the Memphis record for career blocked shots. The short video on ITG (I assume it's still there after they went premium) showcases his ability to block shots, dunk, rebound and handle the ball. I think he's going to be exceptional at Ole Miss.
Malcolm White - Malcolm has used the immense amount of minutes he has seen this season to evolve into the player that many had hoped for. In case you missed it, Malcolm had 18 rebounds against Auburn. Obviously, Malcolm still has a lot to work on in terms of consistency, but since SEC play started, he has been a solid player.
DeAundre Cranston - Cranston is probably out of position at the 5 spot, but he's the second best player we have at the position. Like Murphy, Cranston goes hard after every loose ball. I've been really surprised with how helpful he is to the team. At the beginning of the season, he seemed like a slow and bumbling oaf on the court, but he has really stepped up his game and is a very important part of the team now.
Kevin Cantinol - I think that if we can sign another big man (Demarcus Cousins), Cantinol is the odd man out. I know. A crazy prediction seeing as Cantinol doesn't even see minutes now that we have eight healthy players (not including white guys not named Bogan) on roster. I haven't even really had an opportunity to evaluate Cantinol, but there's no chance that he'll graduate from Ole Miss in my opinion. He's just too mediocre to take a scholarship for five years.
I know that it's early to make a prediction for what will happen over a year from now, but there's just so much hope in next season. If we don't make the NCAA tournament, it will be because half of our guards had their knees chopped off again. I don't think we have any realy chance at a championship or final four appearance, but I also don't think we'll be one and done in the big dance. I'm saying we'll go to the Sweet 16. Coupled with my football prediction (which doesn't come until the summer), it's going to be a prosperous year for "money" sports.